Posts Tagged ‘brewery’

Gipsy Hill is rapidly becoming the latest craft beer hangout on the London scene. The newest kid on the block, London Beer Factory joins nearby establishments such as Clarkshaws (Peckham Rye), The Florence Brewpub and the Late Knights tap room opposite Gipsy Hill station. Even as I drafted this blog post a new brewery has opened right next door in the form of Gipsy Hill Brewery. The London Beer Factory was born in Spring this year and has been slowly applying the finishing touches to their core London themed beers, Chelsea Blonde and London Session and also to their Industrial England inspired brewery. Make no mistake, despite the industrial sounding name and spacious ex-food production unit, they are very much craft at heart.

A reclaimed bar made from scaffolding poles stands out against the shiny polished brewing kit, the walls are decorated with murals and spray painted logos, the pilot kit bubbles away containing their latest brew (a double IPA on last visit) and enough boys toys around to make this the ultimate adult playground (mini basketball hoop, cross-bow darts board, outside terrace with BBQ, pull down projector screen and fat leather sofa. Sound fun…Did I mention they have beer?). The brewery has a warm, homely feel, like a pimped out barn but with a few thousand litres of great beer chilling in the corner.

To celebrate London Beer Week I’m running a brewery tour, beer tasting and BBQ right in the belly of the brewery at The London Beer Factory. For £25 you get a tour by the owners Sim and Ed (who are brothers) a 6 beer tasting including a selection of LBF’s new range and other London breweries followed by a BBQ on the terrace. We’ll be hanging out until 10pm so you get the opportunity to talk beer and brewing, or just drink the stuff from the bar. Sounds like my perfect Friday night!

You can purchase your Earlybird ticket with 15% off before this Friday here:





Howdie guys.

If you missed the Independence Day tasting on 4th July or the incredible Rooftop Brewing event on 5th July then never fear as I have a feast of events coming up!

Argentinian Pizza and craft beer Supper Club
Speaking of feasts, I am shaking with excitement and incredibly lucky to be running an Argentinian Pizza and Craft Beer pairing on Thursday 24th July with Olly the singing pizza chef extraordinaire.

Say Ole to Oli from the critically acclaimed Argentinian Pizza Supper Club! This event will introduce you to some of London’s Best Craft Beers & Argentinian Empanadas, Original Pizza Recipes hand made right here in London.

The format for the evening will be as follows:
-Three (3) different Craft Beers to taste (330ml bottle)
-Three (3) different Courses
Optional Ticket Upgrade: Four (4) Craft Beers & Three (3) different Courses Plus Dessert.

August – London will be the beer capital of the world

In August this year, there are some mind-blowingly cool events happening in the name of celebrating beer. The countdown begins.

London Beer City August 9-16th August
Some great events this week including talks and tastings. I’m running a special event at London’s newest brewery, London Beer Factory where we will have a tour and tasting of their beer right in the belly of their beautiful brewery. Booking details to follow.

Great British Beer Festival 12-16th August
Established in 1977 and still going strong

Indie Ales presents “Dress Down Thursday” Thursday 21st August.
Let loose at Paper Dress Vintage in Shoreditch with craft beer and craft cocktails. So on trend. Booking details to follow.

Craft Beer in Cans

I’m a steadfast believer in canned beer. Don’t be shocked, I’m not about to replace my reassuringly expensive craft brewed beer with cheaper-than-water-piss-in-a-can. Oh no.

What you are about to experience over the coming months, first here in London, then latterly all over the UK is the next big trend in craft beer. Craft beer in cans.

What’s with the trend?

When it comes to beer, we are still taking the lead from the 2800 or so craft breweries in the United States. Back in ’02 Dale’s Pale Ale from Oskar Blues Brewery turned the beer industry upside down when it became the first U.S. microbrewery to bring craft beer to market in aluminium cans only. Back then people still frowned upon cans as a cheap way to deliver lager-style cheap beer and still associated cans with college kids, hipsters, and… other cheap beer. Today, over 300 US breweries sell beer in cans and canned beer is now the biggest growth area in the US beer market.

Why cans?

The arguments in favour of canned beer are overwhelming. Here are a few:

  • Cans are lighter and cheaper for the brewery and distributor to ship. Since breweries pay distributors by the palate, you can fit 30% more cans per palate than bottles. This means we get great beer, cheaper.
  • They are recyclable. This is good for the planet.
  • Cans don’t break.
  • Cans are easier and more convenient to bring along on outdoor activities such as BBQ’s, festivals, picnics in the park, beach trip or any type of outdoor pursuit where good beer is required!
  • Cans get cold quicker and take up less space in your fridge! This means you can have lovely cold beer quicker and put more beer in your fridge!

The overwhelming argument in favour of cans though is taste. Beer cans have a micro thin water-based polymer lining that eliminates any metallic contamination or flavours. Nobody wants a mouthful of nails. The seal is better than bottle caps at preventing air from getting in. Oxygen is a big enemy of beer, causing oxygenisation which can happen over time if there is not a perfect seal on your craft beer. Cans are 100% opaque which means no nasty sunlight can attack your beer.  Sunlight can cause it to become ‘lightstruck’ or have a ‘skunked’ flavour. This makes it taste like Heineken, definitely a big no no.

Cans are cool

Canned beer is cool

The only thing cooler than a craft beer is a craft beer that looks fantastic. Cans certainly achieve this with their sometimes outrageous designs, bright colours and attractive packaging.

Cans are also a more relaxed alternative to bottles which fit well with the relaxed dining, street food and popups vibe. You can find wicked canned beer at Byron burgers for instance. As Chris Hall also mentions in his excellent blog post on cans ( a movement of craft beer towards cans may even provide an opportunity for bottled beer to stand out as a more rare or specialist product, maintaining the important tradition of bottle fermentation which emphasises fuller flavours, natural carbonation and successful aging of beers.

Nobody should drink quality beer directly from the can or bottle. Since 70% of the flavour is said to come from the aroma, great beer should always be consumed from a vessel where you can appreciate the beautiful aroma by getting your nose stuck in there. This is clearly impossible from a can or bottle. Never fear… new technology is the States is enabling ‘topless’ canned drinking where the whole top of the can is removable! I cant wait to see this over here.

innovative beer can

Early adopters

You have probably seen canned beer by Camden Brewery and Brew Dog in bars or at the supermarket already. They have realised the benefits and got the ball rolling. Fourpure in Bermondsey recently started selling cans from their own canning line and this week Beavertown in Hackney canned their first beers.

Even premium purveyors of fine beer such as Pilsner Urquell are moving towards the canning line. Budwiser Budwar commissioned a canning line for its original lager and dark lager this year.

Apart from the obvious benefits I mentioned above, the cost of canning beer has also reduced over the years. The canning companies have reduced their minimum order size and the makers of the canning plants have developed smaller, cheaper lines. This all means that it is more accessible for niche craft breweries to get their fantastic beer into cans.

So there is my looking glass into the future… I believe cans are coming and for me this is good news as they look great and keep the beer at in prime condition for our drinking satisfaction. Weatherspoon’s have recently started selling cans across their 900 pub estate but I’m yet to venture into one to confirm this. On the flipside, I have also read that the Sixpoint beer (from the US) they are serving has not exactly been welcomed by the Weatherspoon’s faithful (you can read the debate here: so perhaps the speed of the can-invasion I am envisaging is a little way off yet. Time will tell.

What do you think about canned beer? Are there any other craft breweries doing cans that I have not mentioned?


After a great beer and cheese tasting night on Thursday I just wanted to give you a quick update on what’s going on in the rest of February. Indie Ales are very busy over the next few weeks bringing you some awesomely tasty craft beer events all over London.

Friday 21st February – Westminster
First up this week I’ll be at The Hub Westminster for the relaunch if their weekly Beers at Six. Out with the the crap tasteless lager and in with awesome beer brewed by local London breweries with passion, care and attention. This sits much better with us and we hope you agree!

Tuesday 25th February – Holloway
All aboard the supperclub revolution. On Tuesday 25th February I’m delighted to be joining the top chefs at The Secret Larder for an exclusive beer themed supper club. 4 incredible courses, each paired with a range of London’s scrummiest craft beer and a few exciting treats thrown in!
Book here

Thursday 27th February – Earlsfield, SW London
Where can you find the freshest, tastiest beer and meet the brains behind the brew? Direct at source of course! Brewery tour and tasting at By The Horns Brewery in Earlsfield, SW London. Great chance to see the brewery up close and personal, taste the beer and ask all your burning questions!


Started by two home brewers, Chris and Alex who followed their dream and started their own small scale brewery in Earlsfield South West London. They aim to take the brewing scene by the proverbial horns by making beer that ‘is far superior in taste, flavour, mouth-feel, aroma and appearance’.

Since starting out, they have expanded their operation with additional tanks, taking on Nic the brewer and constructing a pretty awesome brewery tap. The bar itself serves beer from 3 cask hand pumps and 6 keg taps from Thursday to Saturdays.

By the Horns brewery tap. Good times

By the Horns brewery tap. Good times

I escaped the horrendous London weather last weekend to catch the start of this years Six Nations rugby at the brewery tap. Huge big screen projector, a passionate crowd and free flowing great beer, what’s not to like. I enjoy the way these guys are opening up their brewery to the public, introducing small scale brewing to a new audience. It was packed, so their strategy is clearly working.

I particularly enjoyed the Mayor of Garratt English bitter. Deep and flavoursome, fruity with liquorice notes on the nose. A few of those was enough to ease the pain of an England loss to the French!

I’m running a tour and tasting in conjunction with By The Horns on 27th February, so if you want to get a real insight from passionate small scale breweries then come on down. £15 including 4 beers.

It’s been a great start to 2014!

Winter Beer Tasting, my first tasting event of year is sold out! What a way to start the year.  Congratulations to you lucky sods who got in quick to buy tickets, I’ve got an awesome selection of wintery beers brewed in London ready to be guzzled.

Don’t panic if you missed this one, I’ve got myself organised and booked in the following few tastings:

Beer and Cheese Pairing with The French Comte – 13th Feb

Use this link for early bird tickets:

This epic beer and cheese tasting will happen at a new venue, The Phoenix Pub in between Clapham North and Stockwell.  They have a lovely private room upstairs where we can get friendly with some genuine French cheese…. and with each other if we like, it’s the day before valentines after all.

Generic cheese and beer photo

Generic cheese and beer photo

I’m also incredibly privileged to be running a beer themed supper club on 25th February with the wildly acclaimed Secret Larder supper club.  6 courses and 6 different harmoniously paired beers.


Stout Patrick’s Day – 17th March

Use this link for early bird tickets:

For avoidance of doubt, Guinness is a stout and this makes the above event name is very clever.  Stouts and porters were traditionally widely consumed in 18th Century London and more recently made famous by Mr Arthur Guinness.   Back at The White Horse, Parsons Green, we will compare some of the best examples around of the ‘black stuff’ against the classic Guinness accompanied by some tasty Irish grub. Everyone’s Irish on March 17th!


Come over to the dark side

Come over to the dark side

I’m getting a few people together via my meetup site to attend these other cool beer events going on around London, join the fun

Watch 6 Nations on a big screen at By The Horns Brewery (1st Feb)

Battersea Beer Festival, 5-7th February, Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, SW11

Craft Beer Rising, fun beer festival (21st-23rd February)



Don’t forget to be part of the Indie Ales community of beer! Its all about sharing great beer and helping your friends drink better.

Via Facebook and twitter @indieales

Be a good person

Be a good person

I was kindly invited to put on an informal beer tasting at the December Startup Grind event for startup entrepreneurs at Google Campus…. Just the ticket to inspire some unsuspecting hipsters, hackers and hustlers t0 drink some incredible craft beer (in case they needed any convincing!).

Can I have some more beer please?

Can I have some more beer please?

Must have craft beer available at networking events... its thirsty work!

Must have craft beer available at networking events… its thirsty work!



The idea was to offer a relaxed beer tasting experience in a networking session, which would also be a great ice breaker and get people nattering about how much they enjoyed  (hopefully) the beer and what aromas and taste’s they were experiencing.  There was massive interest in the Indie Ales beer stand, where we were offering free Fourpure Brewery craft beer.   It was even more incredible to see the reactions of those unfamiliar with good tasting beer, goofy smiles and cheshire cat grins all round.

Some great techniques on display

Some great techniques on display

The Fourpure Session IPA, is a lovely, refreshing drinkable IPA (4.2%) with great fruity aroma from the American Crystal and Cascade hops. It really suprised everyone with the aromatic fruity notes and drinkability, a great intro to IPA’s for the lager drinker and went down well with the females as well!

Exhibit (a) : 1 x Fourpure Session IPA

Exhibit (a) : 1 x Fourpure Session IPA

The IPA started off as my outright favourite, but switching onto the Fourpure Oatmeal Stout a little later into the tasting, in a clear bid to swing some attention towards to darker brew, it really grew on me.  It was really pleasing for me to see some people take to the darker beer straight away.  It found an immediate affinity with chocolate and coffee lovers who were smacked by the dark delicious flavours and many people were shocked at the drinkability and tastiness in comparison to other more prevalent Irish Stouts!

I really hope I was able to inspire a few people to convert to brilliantly tasty craft beer.  High five to StartupGrind for getting me down and for everyone at the event for giving it a go!

Respect to Fourpure for the incredible beer, it is now available in various locations in London and you can purchase the beer from the Brewery’s website:

BIG thanks to Peter Alberti photography for the great images of beer!

Did anyone order cheeeeese?

Did anyone order cheeeeese?

Hi beer geeks and alcoholics

Very quick note to say that I’ve got two upcoming tastings gigs confirmed where you can come say hi and get your hands on some great beer.

On Monday I am working in partnership with Startup Grind London to put on an informal beer tasting at Google Campus alongside their monthly speaker series and networking event. These are awesome events for anyone interested in startups or entrepreneurship. London’s newest and coolest brewery Fourpure Brewing are supplying the beer (It’s bloody tasty by the way). You can get tickets via the StartupGrind meetup page.

The next Indie Ales tasting is on 22nd January where we will be tasting some cracking locally brewed seasonal beers from exciting London craft breweries. I’m delighted to have built a new relationship with The White Horse pub in Parsons Green which is one of London’s most historic and premier beer bars. You can purchase beer tasting tokens on my eventbrite page and for a little Christmas present I’m giving you, my fellow beer lovers (subscribers) 15% off until 31st December. Use the code IndieAlessubscriber to cash in!!

Please get your friends to subscribe to also take advantage of (this hugely generous) offer….

I don’t pretend to be a hipster. I live in south west London because I went to Public School and so I can be close to my mummy. For anyone unfamiliar, there is a plethora of incredible pubs, specialist bars, breweries and brew pubs in spitting distance of ‘upcoming’ locations such as Bethnal Green, London Fields and Hackney.

Some of my favourite beer bars are near here (Well & Bucket, Brew Dog, The Electric Showroom etc). So today I thought I’d push the bar out a little and go further afield. To my surprise, Redchurch Brewery is not on Redchurch street (my bad) so after an extremely bland beer at The Owl and Pussycat, we licked our wounds in the familiar environs of Brew Dog, Shoreditch. Mikkeller Galena IPA for myself and Flying Dog, Horn Dog for @LondonGlutton got us started.

Lesson 1

Not all breweries are open Saturdays. Redchurch is one.

Lesson 2

Don’t go to The White Horse on Great Eastern Street if looking for a friendly pint. Lack of windows should have been a clue.

Hanging my head in shame that I didn’t check the website we made the (decent) stroll from unit 276 AKA Redchurch Brewery, to London Fields Brewery whereupon a winter hideaway awaited us.  Great little spot that feels like Santa’s Grotto for grown ups, serving homemade seasonal beery treats such as Pumpkin Ale and Dopplebocks alongside their usual offering. Friendly, Christmassy and trendy. Nice little window to the brewery where they also run tours through the weekend.  Be sure to book a table!

It would have been rude not to slide into Look Mum No Hands round the corner, to kick back on some school chairs and feel rebellious drinking a beer whilst everyone around you is doing homework. From what I can tell it is a coffee joint where hipsters come for peace and quiet to work on their start-ups. All good e-businesses are born on artisan coffee and craft beer these days.  We enjoyed a Kernel Export India Porter and an Partizan ale. Both lovely and served in flute glasses not coffee mugs thankfully.

Lesson 3

Pressure Drop does not have a brew pub

Lesson 4

Neither does Five Points

The Old Cock, Hackney felt a bit cavernous. Stools were littered everywhere (the seats without the back or arms kind), the service was pretty unfriendly but the number of taps was mind boggling. Beers from Their own brewpub Howling Hops as well as London Fields, Camden Brewery, Pressure Drop among others were prevalent. The Dobbel I had was awful. Sour like soy sauce.  My faith was restored by the Bramble Porter, rich sweet, dark fruits, hint of chocolate as well as good refreshing bitterness. It was very drinkable and a lovely flavoursome porter.

Perhaps we are spoilt in South London for breweries throwing their doors open to the public? (E.g. The Bermondsey breweries, Sambrooks, By The Horns) Maybe there are enough pubs selling quality beer in the East London vicinity to negate the need for breweries to depart from their main vocation of selling beer?

I don’t know the answer but I’m not convinced that a beer pilgrimage out East will lead you to the promise land of London Craft beer, even though much of it is brewed there. Perhaps naively I expected them all to be open on a Saturday. Isn’t the fun part of owning a brewery opening the doors to the public and seeing what assortment of geeks turn up?

Do you agree, have I missed something?

We beer drinkers can be a grumpy bunch, often vehemently defending our favoured style over the other.  It is a fascinating debate and these two styles have been competing for their right within your pint glass for many years… or so you might think.

Ale, in similar form to how we know if now has been a staple part of the diet in the UK since the 16th and 17th Centuries.  In Victorian times (before Evian) beer was better sanitised and healthier than water and was even supplied as part of a worker’s daily wage.  Surprisingly, lager has only become a popular drink in Britain as recently as the 1960’s stemming from the Bavarian style lager beers of around the 16th Century which have since been emulated worldwide.  Your granddad was a real-ale man for sure.

It took several hundred years for Bavarian style lagers to displace top-fermenting beers in other areas in Germany.  It was the discovery of refrigeration, popular culture, the smooth refreshing taste and big marketing campaigns that ensured lager became the pre-eminent alcoholic beverage worldwide throughout the 20th Century.

Spot the Difference

There are obvious differences between both styles in appearance and taste.  Real ale is predominantly darker, more coppery-amber in colour, fruitier, spicier, earthier to taste with often creamy, smooth characteristics and hop bitterness.  I believe they have more flavor than lager… Ok so now my cards are on the table.

This is an ale.

This is an ale.

Lagers range from very light yellow, to beautiful golden and even light amber hues and we all know the attractiveness of a nicely carbonated lager in the summer.  Refreshment personified!

But to critically understand the differences we need to understand how each style makes it from the farm to pump.

The Basics

‘Real ale’ as defined by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is “a natural product brewed using traditional ingredients and left to mature in the cask (container) from which it is served in the pub through a process called secondary fermentation”.  Real ales are untreated before they reach the pub, there is no filtration or pasteurisation meaning it is a living product and none of the flavour has been killed or washed out.  It takes great skill by the brewer to deliver it in fine condition and from the publican to serve it at the correct time to ensure maximum taste and flavor.  The technique of brewing ale like this was developed to get the ale out of the brewery door and into vessels as quick as possible.  I told you we were a thirsty bunch back then.

Lager uses special yeasts that ferment the beer at the bottom of the fermenter (as opposed to ale yeasts which are top fermenting).  The word “Lager” means to store in German.  The beers were so called because they found the cooler temperatures and the type of yeast allowed the slow fermentation to occur over the summer months in cold Bavarian caves.  This ‘storing’ helped preserve the beer.  Slow fermentation was required as no brewing occurred over the summer (because of problems keeping beer at constant temperature in the heat and the workers were busy tending to the land) and thus the cold fermentation allowed beer to be stored and was readily accessible.  The Czechs and German’s loved their Lager beer so much that they cut huge slabs of ice from the mountains as a primitive substitute to walk-in fridges.

The slower fermentation process means the flavours are cleaner, less complex and are focused at either the malty or hoppy end of the taste spectrum.  The subtle flavour and brilliant bubbles make these beers perfect session beers, very accessible to all drinkers, extremely thirst quenching and an ideal bedfellow to mild food on a warm summer’s day.

Moving Away from Stereotypes

Both styles suffer from lingering negative perceptions depending on the drinker.  Historically ale has been seen as stuffy, ‘too warm’, ‘tasteless’, as an ‘old man’s drink’, which are not altogether outrageous statements.  Encountering a CAMRA member (which I am one), donned in sandals and with fishing tackle bulging out of cargo shorts waxing lyrical about real ale is thankfully no longer such an nuisance on a visit to the pub.   In fact they are doing a lot to modernise the organization and it cannot be underestimated what they have done to rescue real ale from the brink of extinction since it was formed in 1971.  The beauty of the real ale is the brewers’ skill to deliver an exceptionally beautiful, natural, tasty and still-living product to the consumer.  It would be a disaster if real ale was pushed out of pubs in favour of products that have longer shelf lives, are easier to maintain and cheaper to serve (due to additives).  Real ale is also a truly British product.  British breweries have been brewing beer like this for hundreds of years and it is copied but rarely repeated around the world.

It is not just real ale which has suffered.  After 50 years of pale, fizzy, ice cold flavourless American factory lager, the craft beer movement since the 1980’s in the United States was a welcome movement away to tastier beer using less adjuncts (like rice and corn).  A massive consolidation in breweries throughout the world is also pushing people away from ‘factory lagers’ as consumers are rejecting the large international brands in favour of small artisanal hand made products where quality is paramount.  Did anyone say real ale?

So I guess the purpose of this blog is to ask you to think openly and judge critically next time you are ordering at the bar. If you are a lager drinker, do you drink ale? There are some spectacular traditional lagers available which in the pilsner and Bavarian in the traditional styles (Maerzen, Oktoberfest and Vienna Lagers).  You can also find some incredibly tasty real ales that give equal refreshment to many lagers, ask the barman for advice!

Are you a real ale drinker? Do you like the crisp, hoppy, herbal refreshment that a lager delivers or more complex flavours? Has the recent trend for ice cold, mainstream, sugary lagers put you off?

Don’t be grumpy now… to continue the debate and taste the differences for yourself, come down to my next beer tasting on Tuesday 19th, Real Ale vs Lager.